A Spy’s Guide to a Top Secret Job Search

Looking for a new job while employed can take a lot of effort, from strategically planning interviews to finding time to rework your resume. But a secret job search can be surprisingly fun if you look at it from the right angle. Why not take it to the next level by adopting a 007 persona? After all, it takes a stealthy, savvy and suave person to keep an active job search off the boss’s radar. Bring a little excitement and edge to your job search by thinking of yourself as a secret agent working on a top-secret mission!

1. Use Your Gadgets Wisely

  • Take advantage of mobile apps. It’s the digital age, and technology has provided many conveniences that were not possible before. Use this to your advantage. Simply Hired has an app that is available on iTunes and Android. Searching on a tablet or phone is effortless, and it’s more discrete than looking on a big computer screen. Speaking of which…
  • Don’t search on your work computer.  If you conduct your personal job search during what are supposed to be work hours, you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position. Employers have the right to search your browser history. Moreover, if they find out they won’t be pleased about your activities.

2. Stay Incognito

  • Keep your resume under wraps.  Don’t post your resume on every job board; someone is bound to notice. If you hand out your resume, make it clear that your current employer is not aware of your covert operations.
  • Dress appropriately.  Don’t walk into work in full-on interview attire if you dress casually on a day-to-day basis. Leave your interview clothes in the car, or mix pieces of formal and casual clothes. Get creative. You can disguise yourself in many ways.

3. For Your Eyes Only

  • Use LinkedIn carefully.  Hailed as the place to network for job opportunities, LinkedIn provides a great space to build connections. Start by interacting more with your network and updating your online profile. As always, check your settings to select the degree of privacy before you start sharing information.
  • Approach social media with caution.  For better and worse, social media is where content can go viral. A private job search, however, should not be something you share with your entire social network. Use private messages, avoid status updates about your job search and adjust your privacy settings. Remember: nothing online is private.
  • Share selectively.  A job search is insider knowledge and best not to be shared with coworkers. Telling your coworkers is the easiest way to blow your cover, as people like to gossip. 

4. Double Agent Status 

  • Create and remember your backstory.  You need a cover for your interviews and calls. Doctor appointments, dentist check-ups, whatever; it needs to be a reasonable and believable story. Schedule them cautiously and space them out to avoid suspicion.
  • Separate your job search from your workspace.  Don’t take calls in the office and don’t schedule them during work hours. Use your personal email on your personal phone or home computer for electronic correspondence with potential employers.
  • Finish strong.  Keep on keepin’ on at work, and don’t fall victim to unprofessionalism because you anticipate leaving the company soon. Think of the long-term benefit: you want to keep a good relationship with your current employer for any future recommendations or opportunities. 

5. If Your Cover is Blown

  • Honestly is the best policy.  It’s important to prepare an appropriate explanation for your employer if your mission is compromised. You want to give a straight answer with a carefully constructed, yet truthful reason. Be sure to emphasize that you are still dedicated to your current role.

Leading two lives simultaneously isn’t easy, but you can learn from great secret agents like James Bond and Jason Bourne. The key to succeeding undercover? Tread carefully. In the words of George Herbert, “The life of spies is to know, not to be known.”

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